24 October 2007

We are being watched...

Pues I decided to give it a second try to this blog thing. For those not familiar with the word "Pues" (which is Spanish word quite common Guatemalan-speak) I promise creating a posting dedicated to its use, although I might just rip a huge quote from TLNOWC a novel I am still reading by Francisco Goldman. In any case, I decided to inaugurate this new blog after seeing this:

You might not be able to see it clearly, but there are a couple of little cameras on the ceiling of this TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) bus I was riding today. It was a first for me to take a picture with my phone in public, but I thought it would be worth it. Also, since I've been playing with the idea of this blog, it was something ad hoc because I have commented a few times about privacy and my concern (or lack of) for being observed by Big Brother.

So, it seems the city decided to finally put cameras on buses, probably to deter criminal activity or vandalism. I now recall having seen a front page about this on a local newspaper over the weekend, but didn't pay to much attention to it.

Well, my issue is that I really don't see any problem with this. I find it amusing to see these little alien eyes staring at me, and I imagine some remote dark room full of little black and white monitors flickering and jumping from camera to camera. I can imagine this because I used to work in a private school in Guatemala where CCTV was one of the features they sold to parents with the marketing pitch of "see how your kid really behaves when you are not around" (not with those exact words, but it was the underlying message. I wonder how the teachers really felt about it. I never heard any explicit complaints, but then again, private school teachers were (are?) not unionized in Guatemala, so you better not complain too much.

Here is another look at the eye in the sky (or at least the ceiling):

Well, my main point is that privacy is overrated when you are in a public place. In itself the concept of expectation of privacy when you are in public seems contradictory. If you want privacy stay at home, or be another polluter and ride your own car, and if you even want more privacy tint your windows. This last practice not only common, but common sense in Guatemala for other reasons.

Thus it ends my first posting. It seems I have touched another couple of topics I would like to discuss and I hope you also add to this and future discussions. I'll be observing if people notice these contraptions now that I have noticed them. How do you feel about being observed by cameras on public places?


Claudia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CarmenDeBizet said...

Little eyes everywhere. I see them in street intersections, while shopping, walking around the neighborhood, and even while waiting for a doctor. What are they looking at? What are they looking for? Obviously not me, I am the dork who likes to walk aisle by aisle 'cause in my head it's a way of "exercising." I do, however, skip the area where Starbucks is because the temptation might be too great. I have noticed though that people behave differently when they realize they are being watches...it's like they walk a little straighter. Maybe we ought to conduct a study...hahahahaha. XD

CarmenDeBizet said...

Hahahaha "watches"...watched. Repeat after me Carmen, watched.

Manolo said...

OMG you found and commented on my very first post. You are amazing. Just a couple of days ago they put on the radio that song that goes "I always feel like, somebody is watching me" and I remember this post. Privacy-schmivacy.